PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS ESCALATING IN CHINA

A U.S.-based persecution watchdog says it has documented more than 100 incidents of Christian persecution in China between July 2020 and June 2021 as the country’s communist regime seeks to forcefully convert independent religious groups into mechanisms of the Chinese Communist Party.

A significant trend throughout the past year was an increase in church raids, says a report published by International Christian Concern. It notes that “not only were churches shut down or demolished, but pastors and church attendees were often arrested.”

One example of this crackdown happened earlier this month when more than 30 officials from the CCP, including SWAT officers, police officers, religious affairs bureau officials and local school district administrators raided Maizi Christian Music High School in Harbin city in China’s Heilongjiang province, the U.S.-based rights group China Aid reported at the time.

In August, officers from Chenghua District Mengzhuiwang office in Sichuan province forcibly entered the home of a church member, He Shan, where the small group of Early Rain Covenant Church members were meeting for worship, CBN News said at the time.

ICC has also tracked 23 incidents of authorities demolishing religious structures and symbols during its reporting period. “The CCP has torn down, destroyed, and removed numerous churches in China, especially those that refused to submit to its control,” the report says.

The persecution watchdog adds in the report that it recorded 14 cases of “Sinicization,” which is a state campaign to forcefully assimilate religious groups into CCP-defined Chinese culture.

As an example, ICC highlights the plight of a church bookstore that was forced to display Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book instead of the Bible. The Administration for Religious Affairs also ordered Christians to study President Xi’s book and memorize his speeches.

Chinese authorities are also removing Bible apps and Christian WeChat public accounts as new highly restrictive administrative measures on religious staff went into effect earlier this year.

The ICC report says that almost every province in China has seen an increase in Christian persecution, and this rise has been especially apparent in Sichuan, Hebei and Fujian provinces where the independent churches have been very visible and active.

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This persecution of Christians is escalating all over the world and is evidence we are in the “end times” that Jesus spoke about that precedes His return. Jesus gives us many signs in the following passage from Luke. The same is given by Matthew. Jesus tells us that He is providing opportunities to witness for Him and that the Holy Spirit will even give us the words to speak. This is training and preparation for us to rule and reign with Jesus on this earth during the Millennium.

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.Luke 21:10-19

WOKE OR AWAKE?

It seems as though “wokeness” ideology is taking over our society with everyone from churches, to schools, to giant corporations seeing who can be the most “woke.”

“Woke” ideas emphasize feelings over facts, pretend that individuals determine reality for themselves (i.e. your “truth”), put a priority on affirming feelings, ideas, or behaviors rather than considering the good of others, and often deny even the ability to know objective truth, certainly not Biblical truth. Being “woke” means you have become enlightened to the alleged systemic oppression of various groups and you vow to fight for “social justice” which usually means working for equal economic and social outcomes in a given context. One example of bowing to woke culture is the increased popularity of Critical Race Theory, even in the Church. The theory utilizes race as the lens through which every area of life is examined, categorizing everyone into oppressor and oppressed groups. “This is a religious movement,” Christian pastor and apologist Voddie Baucham (dean of theology at African Christian University in Zambia) said. “It has all the trappings of a religion. It has its own cosmology, it has its own saints, it has its own liturgy, its own law. It has all of those elements. And a lot of those things are very subtle, which makes them rather attractive to religious people.” He explained that, because Christians are rightly concerned with fighting injustice, condemning racism, and promoting equality of opportunities, philosophies like CRT are appealing, even when their underpinnings are “absolutely” in contradiction to Scripture.

Historic Christianity, and even things like logic and science, are seen as oppressive, racist, bigoted, etc. Today’s “woke” culture is tearing our society apart and erecting barriers to people considering the true Gospel and the freedom it provides. In reality, the current popular understanding of “social justice” that undergirds the “woke” movement is the opposite of the good all humans should pursue and is anything but just (i.e. giving someone else their due).

We cannot love our neighbors well and lead them to the feet of Jesus if we sacrifice truth and goodness on the false altar of “wokeness” ideology. It’s time to wake up as we are fast approaching the last days when the Antichrist (The Lawless One) will be revealed. We need to be saying to the next generation, “Expect to be aliens and sojourners. This is not our home. Jesus places us here to be a light to this dark world, not to be part of the darkness”0 .

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.2 Thessalonians 2:9-11
Stand Firm

Southern Evangelical Seminary and Bible College (SES) produced the following video to promote their resources to help young people to disciple the “woke” society.

SPIRIT OF LAWLESSNESS

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The spirit of lawlessness, a spirit that despises authority and that cultivates chaos. And it is a spirit that is at work throughout America today, leaving a train of destruction in its path.

Paul wrote these important words in Romans 13, words that we need to put front and center during these times of cultural upheaval.

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. (Romans 13:1–5)

Protesters set Bibles and American flags on fire over the weekend in Portland, Oregon. (The Sun YouTube channel)

There is something else that is animating these rioters to burn Bibles and the American flag. As Ian Miles Cheong, managing editor of Human Events tweeted, “I don’t know what burning the Bible has to do with protesting against police brutality.

Do not be under the illusion that these protests and riots are anything but an attempt to dismantle all of Western Civilization and upend centuries of tradition and freedom of religion.

Yes, it is beyond ludicrous to suggest that the burning of Bibles has any connection at all to the death of George Floyd, himself a professing Christian. And it is ridiculous to think there is any real connection between the Bible and police brutality. It is an open expression of hostility to the Judeo-Christian God and Judeo-Christian values. It is the thumbing of the nose to divine authority. It is overt rebellion

The spirit of lawlessness is at work. Jesus said lawlessness would increase in the last days before His return. “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold” Matthew 24:12

“The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10